Regional organisations and foreign countries have weighed in on the Somalia-Ethiopia diplomatic row following the signing of a controversial MoU between Ethiopia and breakaway state of Somaliland.
Mogadishu termed the deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland that gives Addis Ababa access to the coastline as an aggression to its territorial integrity. Somali considers Somaliland, which declared Independence in 1991 but is yet to secure international recognition, as its territory.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi in Addis Ababa.
As part of the deal, Somaliland plans to lease a 20-km stretch of land along its coastline to Ethiopia to establish a marine force base.
In return, Somaliland will receive shares in Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio Telecom, the amount of which will be decided in the next round of discussions.
Somalia has since protested the move and recalled its envoy in Addis Ababa for consultations, a potentially first move to severe diplomatic relations.
It has also called upon the United Nations, the African Union, IGAD and the League of Arab states to condemn the move.
The African Union on Wednesday issued a statement, calling for the respect of territorial integrity for the respective countries.
African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki called for calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension between the two states, urging the two governments to refrain from any action that unintentionally may lead to a deterioration of the good relations between them.
“He stresses the imperative to respect unity, territorial integrity and full sovereignty of all African Union member states including Federal Republic of Somalia and Federal Democratic republic of Ethiopia .
“Furthermore, the Chairperson underscores the importance of adhering to the norms of good neighbourliness to promote and consolidate peace, security and stability in the Horn of Africa region,” the statement by the AUC said.
Without condemning Ethiopia, Faki called for negotiations between the two states, even as he said that that African Union will encourage an African solution to the new tension on the continent.
The League of Arab States was, however, more straightforward, saying it stands in solidarity with the government of Somalia in rejecting and condemning the deal ”as a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Somali state”.
Through a statement on Wednesday, spokesman for the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States said the MoU not only violates the sovereignty of the Somali state, but also attempts to benefit from the fragility of the Somali internal situation or from the faltering ongoing Somali negotiations between the Somali people regarding the relationship of the Somali regions with the federal government.
Jamal Rushdi said the Arab League stands in solidarity with the decision of the Somali Council of Ministers, which considered the MoU signed on January 1 null, void and unacceptable, and that it represents a clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia, as well as international law.
IGAD Executive Secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu released a lukewarm statement that was immediately rejected by Somalia, saying “IGAD is diligently monitoring the situation and recognises the potential implications for regional stability”.
“Given the circumstances, the Executive Secretary urges IGAD leaders to be seized, and appeals to the two sisterly countries to collaborate towards a peaceful and amicable resolution of the situation, upholding the shared values that unite the IGAD family. IGAD remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting peace, stability, cooperation, and regional integration,” IGAD statement said.
But Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the statement was biased towards Ethiopia.
The EU, which was among to react on January 2, reminded on the importance of “respecting the unity, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia pursuant of its constitution, the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations.
“This is key for the peace and stability of the entire Horn of Africa region,” it said in a brief statement.
The US has also wade into the crisis, with State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller on Wednesday telling reporters that “the United States recognises sovereignty and territorial integrity of Federal Republic of Somalia within 1960 borders”.
Egypt also expressed its position, stressing on the need to respect Somalia’s sovereignty over its territory.
“The Arab Republic of Egypt stresses the necessity of full respect for the unity and sovereignty of the sisterly Federal Republic of Somalia over its entire territory, and its opposition to any measures that would undermine Somali sovereignty, stressing the exclusive right of Somalia and its people to benefit from its resources,” Egypt said through its Foreign ministry.
It also warned of the danger of the “increase in official movements, procedures and statements issued by countries in the region and outside it, which undermine stability in the Horn of Africa region and increase tensions between its countries, at a time when the African continent is witnessing an increase in conflicts that require concerted efforts to contain it and deal with its repercussions, rather than fueling it irresponsibly”.
The Arab Republic of Egypt stresses the need to respect the objectives of the Constitutive Law of the African Union, including defending the sovereignty,
But even so, Ethiopia remained adamant, saying no party or country will be affected by the MoU.
Addis Ababa will make “an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding the efforts of Somaliland to gain recognition”, while the Finance minister said he was highly pleased with the MoU with Somaliland, and the the entire region will benefit from it through regional economic cooperation.
He announced that implementation will begin as early as next month.
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